Often, as I stated above, link wheels are used as a black hat strategy. Now, Google doesn’t like spammy manipulation of their search results. They hate it, in fact. So if you’re going to follow the black hat approach, you’ve got to know that Google’s algorithm is designed to try and find you and delist you. That’s not really a great way to put together a long term business, in my opinion.
For those that don’t know what a black hat style link wheel is, allow me to explain.
There are plenty of “user generated content sites” on the Internet that can rank quite well on Google for a variety of reasons (domain age, # of inbound links, etc). These are sites like Squidoo, Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress.com. The idea behind a “link wheel” the way the black hats do it is that you can throw a ton of junk content onto these sites, then add a ton of junk links to them. Because there are already so many links to these sites, Google won’t find it strange that there’s more, and even though the content is junk, it’s still content and Google can’t (yet) determine the difference between good content and junk.
The huge number of spam links, combined with the junk content, does (for a short while) increase the page rank of those sites, which you then link to your main site. Each of the user content sites has some decent PR, which is then passed down to your main site.
The idea here is that by linking out to so few sites, the PR that is passed is done so with a fair amount of strength. By obtaining a bunch of inbound links (often tons of garbage links in the black hat strategy) to these sites, you can “protect” your main site from the black hat activities of the sites in the link wheel, while keeping the great PR.
Now, that’s a “traditional” black hat style link wheel. The thing is, doing it that way is actually (in my opinion) way too much work. As Google catches on to the black hat linking activities of one of your link wheel sites, it bans that page and you have to create another. You’re basically in a constant foot race against Google. Doing things this way means that you have to stay one step ahead of Google, creating these junk, spammy sites faster than the search engine can find them and delist them.
Let’s face it, Google is in the business of NOT ranking sites with crap content that have a ton of forum and blog spam links to them. So as Google finds these sites, new ones have to be created, each one as spammy as the previous site. I hope you aren’t in the business of spamming people, blogs, forums, or the search engines.
Further, do you really want your business associated with junk content and blog spam?
Not only that, but to me that seems like an awfully large amount of work, especially since there is a much better way to go about it. You see, on the surface, everything that I’ve said so far might make it seem as if this strategy isn’t useful for a real business. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Link wheels, implemented properly and “above board,” don’t have to put you in a position of fighting Google.
You can implement them in a way that not only won’t put you in a foot race against the Google machine, but also helps to build your credibility in your market place (instead of destroying it the way a black hat link wheel could). Building a link wheel this way actually assists in a more complete and total domination of Google against any competition that you may have.
You see, link wheels, when created and executed properly, can give you a near unbeatable advantage against anyone else in your market. It starts with something I’ll be talking about more in my next article on SEO Chat; it starts with wanting to be an expert and market leader. It starts with you wanting to be a THOUGHT leader in your market.
From there, what you want to do is break your market up into categories of information. Each of the sites in your link wheel is dedicated to a single category.
From here, let me back up again. As I stated previously, in a black hat style of link wheel, the sites in the wheel often contain junk content.
What if instead, each site in your link wheel contained GREAT content, and because of that the links the sites in your wheel obtained were good links, from high value authority sites? In other words, what if you actually posted excellent information of real value to your market?
Now those sites (which are becoming steadily more valuable over time) all gain lots of links because they have lots of lots of excellent content. Because of that, they then gain top rankings. The PR that they pass to your main site is “kept” because Google never blacklists the sites in your link wheel.
Each of your link wheel sites gets top rankings AND your main site gets top rankings, giving you SEVERAL sites under your control sitting on the first page.
Look, “search engine optimization” is a zero sum game. For you to win, someone else is losing. There’s only 10 spots on the first page. For every spot on that page that you can obtain, you knock your competition farther away.
So if you can get your main site to rank well, and each of six or seven other sites in your link wheel to link well as well, that gives you an incredibly large number of sites on the first page. It creates a level of dominance that forces nearly everyone to recognize you as the top dog in your market. It helps you to become that thought leader I have been talking so much about.
So let me ask you … what would it mean if you had six of the 10 listings on google going to YOUR sites? How much more could you make?
Now that I’ve said that, let me be clear about something here. This isn’t some overnight “cheat” that magically gets you top rankings in a single day or even a week. What I’m talking about here is a real strategy that requires patience.
This is meant to be a long term strategy. It’s something of use to a real business that intends to be around for a long time. It’s a strategy for someone that truly wants to be a market place leader instead of just a participant.
Now, before I end this article, let me explain something. The reason the strategy I’ve laid out is so good at absolutely crushing your competition has to do with the fact that few people will actually want to do what it takes to be a market leader. Most people just want to sell their junk and that’s it. The problem is that the nature of the economy these days doesn’t allow for that anymore.
Stores, both online and offline, are going out of business. It takes great marketing to stay in business … and everything you do is marketing. By positioning yourself as an expert and a thought leader in your market, you’ll automatically be considered the best. People will automatically want to buy from you and seek you out, literally ignoring your competition.
While everyone else is just hoping to sell their junk, maybe placing a few ads or running some PPC campaigns, you’re doing something more. You’re doing something objectively so much better. Now, some people might call this strategy more “work.” Personally, I disagree.
It’s more work to have to worry about PPC campaigns all the time, with endless results tracking — and we won’t even talk about the nightmare of Google slaps (and for the record, Facebook isn’t far from doing very similar things).
People spend so much time, effort, and worry on their ad campaigns. If just half of this time were instead spent on making sure that you were an undisputed expert and thought leader of your market, then such things become worries of the past.
Link wheels can help this to happen. You just have to be willing to be patient, to do them properly, and then allow the fruits of your labors to truly pay off.
Allow me to give something of a demonstration on this.
Gary Vaynerchuck for a long time did a “wine tv” show. Over time he became a well known wine expert and thought leader in this space. His wine library “main site” had something of a link wheel from Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and Squidoo. However, his constant appetite for giving good information about wines allowed his tiny little online wine store to grow by leaps and bounds as it shipped wines all over the world to buyers who bought what he recommended.
Now throw in books published through Amazon. Also add a growing “constellation” of content sites he has posted to (The site Get Rich Slowly has his “12 Wines For Under 12 Dollars”) that has brought him traffic (and subsequent sales) from all over the Internet. He’s created a near unbeatable search presence. Wine “aficionados” use “wine tv” as a search phrase, and his website, The Wine Library, has the number one spot over and above the much older wine television.
More importantly, some of his episodes have tens of thousands of views, and his site receives nearly the largest amount of traffic (from a wide variety of sources) of any wine seller online.
If you liked this article, you can read more from me at http://mattgoffrey.blogspot.com.